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Bill Crews lauded as key influence in the West for Baptists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Bill Crews has served for 17 years as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s cornerstone entity in the West — Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

With the Oct. 14 announcement by Crews and the San Francisco-area seminary’s trustees of a transition process to a new president, Crews not surprisingly is being hailed by SBC leaders for the various ways he has brought vision and vibrance to the seminary since assuming his post in 1986.

Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and chairman of the SBC Council of Seminary Presidents, noted that Crews’ influence has been significant not just at the seminary but also in the mid-1980s work of the SBC Peace Committee and the current SBC-wide Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative.

“From the Peace Committee, to Golden Gate Seminary, to the Empowering Kingdom Growth Task Force, Bill Crews has long been one of the SBC’s most influential leaders,” Kelley said in a statement to Baptist Press. “His creativity, innovative spirit and passion for God’s work in the West have been a wonderful asset for Southern Baptists. He is a great leader who has cast a long shadow.”

That shadow still will be seen as Crews, 67, serves Golden Gate as chancellor, a post to which he was elected by trustees Oct. 14, and continues to fulfill the seminary’s presidential duties until his successor is elected.

Jack Graham, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told Baptist Press, “Southern Baptists are grateful for Bill Crews’ service on the West Coast. The cross-cultural, life-effective work of Golden Gate Seminary is in great part due to the creative, visionary leadership of Bill Crews.

“He certainly is someone who will be difficult to succeed and yet … it’s just like Dr. Crews to not only think about his leadership, but to be concerned about the future leadership of the seminary, and to transition in a way that makes it possible for us to move forward in the 21st century most effectively,” said Graham, pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.

Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said in a statement to Baptist Press, “Long ago Bill Crews devoted himself to preaching the Gospel to the people in the western portion of the United States. Little did he know that the Lord would lead him to the presidency of Golden Gate and the opportunity to guide young men and women in preparation for the ministries to which God had called them. His witness will endure for years to come because, in obedience to God’s call, he planted himself in the midst of a coming generation to ready them to fulfill God’s call to go to neighboring cities and even to the ends of the earth.”

Chapman described Crews as “a humble and genuine giant of a Christian man. He consistently demonstrates the love of God, whether compassionately ministering to another or firmly debating strategic elements of theological education. In his position as president of Golden Gate he has served our Lord Jesus Christ with honor, dignity, strong biblical convictions and the grace of our loving Lord. Bill is a friend for whom I have great respect and admiration. I know all Southern Baptists are grateful God raised him up as one of our most exceptional pastors, preachers, educators, leaders, authors and strategists.

“As many will be doing,” Chapman continued, “I will be praying that God will pave the way for a smooth transition at Golden Gate, and that soon God’s man for this strategic hour of the seminary’s history will be building upon Bill Crews’ solid foundation of good work and godly leadership. Also I pray God will give Bill and JoAnn many more happy years together rejoicing in the Lord and enjoying each other.”

Fermin Whittaker, executive director of California Southern Baptist Convention, said Crews has been “an innovative leader in training men and women to serve Southern Baptist churches during this and the next generation. He has a passion for developing leadership skills among those involved in seminary education that I believe will serve our churches well.

“Throughout his tenure, Dr. Crews has monitored the pulse of churches, associations and state conventions in the West and has been a pioneer in responding to opportunities so Golden Gate graduates could meet the challenges of congregations in those states.”

Whittaker said Crews “also has been a friend and strong supporter of California Southern Baptists’ mission efforts. For that I am greatly indebted to him. We will miss his leadership skills, his generosity and his humor. However, I am convinced that God has a special leader to follow the trail he has begun to carve.”

Dwight Honeycutt, the seminary’s William A. Carleton Professor of Church History, who joined the faculty the year after Crews became president, said in a statement to Baptist Press, “He was my friend before I arrived, and his friendship continues to bless my life. Only his love for Christ and his family exceeds his love for this school. From the beginning, he brought to Golden Gate a sensitivity to the needs of the churches that prompted him to emphasize the training of men and women who would go out to serve as effective leaders in churches across the world.

“From my perspective as a faculty member,” Honeycutt continued, “I believe President Crews has blessed us by insisting that we keep our focus on the main task that God has entrusted to us by way of excellence in the teaching of those who the churches send to us. He came to the presidency from the pastorate, and his pastor’s heart has positively permeated the culture of Golden Gate. He has left his mark.”
Please see story about Crews’ transition at http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=16864. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: BILL CREWS.